The week in quotes (2019W08)

Sebastian Greger

Another week, another set of quotes:

In “Even the IAB warned adtech risks EU privacy rules”, TechCrunch discusses the most recent evidence brought forth to support GDPR complaints field against adtech:

As it lobbies to water down ePrivacy rules, the IAB suggests it’s “technically impossible” for informed consent to function in a real-time bidding scenario […]

The notion that it’s impossible to obtain informed consent from web users for processing their personal data prior to doing so is important because the behavioral ad industry, as it currently functions, includes personal data in bid requests that it systematically broadcasts to what can be thousands of third-party companies.

A piece in The Atlantic raises the complex issue of consent related to “sharenting”, the practice of parents and caretakers sharing the lives of children online:

The shock of realizing that details about your life—or, in some cases, an entire narrative of it—have been shared online without your consent or knowledge has become a pivotal experience in the lives of many young teens and tweens.

“Parents now shape their children’s digital identity long before these young people open their first email. The disclosures parents make online are sure to follow their children into adulthood,” declares a report by the University of Florida Levin College of Law. “These parents act as both gatekeepers of their children’s personal information and as narrators of their children’s personal stories.”

The 2018 Digital News Report (Reuters/UOxford) identifies a much lower news literacy than commonly expected:

Just under a third (29%) correctly stated that most of the individual decisions about news people see on Facebook are made by computer analysis of what stories might interest them. More than one in ten (12%) said that these decisions were made by journalists working for news organisations, with a similar number (11%) believing that Facebook employs journalists for this task. Just under one in ten (9%) thought the selection process was random.

We can convert these responses into a news literacy scale. When we do this, we can see that news literacy is much lower than many within the news industry might like or expect. We can see that one-third (32%) did not get any of these questions correct.

On the sociology blog Scatterplot, Jess Calarco summarizes their study on “the new digital divide on college campuses”:

It’s easy to look around a college campus and think – there’s no digital divide here. […] [M]y co-authors and I argue that the digital divide on college campuses has shifted from one of technology access to one of technology maintenance. In a survey of college students at a large, midwestern university, we find near-universal ownership of cell phones and laptops. That said, we also find big gaps in the quality and reliability of the technology students own.

Jonny Rae-Evans, on the question of what is “good design”:

[…] at times, being simply user-centred can be too narrow. It’s not enough to just look at primary users and the immediate beneficiaries of our products. We should challenge ourselves. Who have we disadvantaged or displaced? Who has our algorithm hurt or disenfranchised? How could this interesting thing we’ve made be misused and cause harm once it leaves our hands?

Jonathan Watts reminds Guardian readers that biodiversity is an equally important issue of concern as is climate change:

The world’s capacity to produce food is being undermined by humanity’s failure to protect biodiversity, according to the first UN study of the plants, animals and micro-organisms that help to put meals on our plates.

“Around the world, the library of life that has evolved over billions of years – our biodiversity – is being destroyed, poisoned, polluted, invaded, fragmented, plundered, drained and burned at a rate not seen in human history,” Ireland’s president, Michael Higgins, said at a biodiversity conference in Dublin on Thursday. “If we were coal miners we’d be up to our waists in dead canaries.”

A (more or less) weekly collection of inspiring, surprising or otherwise noteworthy texts, talks and podcasts. Usually around my core topics of usability, ethics, and digital society. Previous issues in the archive.

I'm Sebastian, Sociologist and Interaction Designer. This journal is mostly about bringing toge­ther social science and design for inclusive, privacy-focused, and sustainable "human-first" digital strategies. I also tend to a "digital garden" with carefully curated resources.

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